Datuk Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE (born Chan Kong-sang, 陳港生; 7 April 1954) is a Hong Kong actor, martial artist, film director, producer, stuntman, and singer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts, which he typically performs himself. Chan has been training in Kung fu and Wing Chun. He has been acting since the 1960s and has appeared in over 150 films.
Chan has received stars on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As a cultural icon, Chan has been referenced in various pop songs, cartoons, and video games. An operatically trained vocalist, Chan is also a Cantopop and Mandopop star, having released a number of albums and sung many of the theme songs for the films in which he has starred. He is also a notable philanthropist
Chan was born on 7 April 1954, in British Hong Kong, as Chan Kong-sang, to Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, refugees from the Chinese Civil War. He was nicknamed Pao-pao Chinese: 炮炮 (“Cannonball”) because the energetic child was always rolling around. His parents worked for the French ambassador in Hong Kong, and Chan spent his formative years within the grounds of the consul’s residence in the Victoria Peak district.
Chan attended the Nah-Hwa Primary School on Hong Kong Island, where he failed his first year, after which his parents withdrew him from the school. In 1960, his father emigrated to Canberra, Australia, to work as the head cook for the American embassy, and Chan was sent to the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School run by Master Yu Jim-yuen. Chan trained rigorously for the next decade, excelling in martial arts and acrobatics. He eventually became part of the Seven Little Fortunes, a performance group made up of the school’s best students, gaining the stage name Yuen Lo in homage to his master. Chan became close friends with fellow group members Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, and the three of them later became known as the Three Brothers or Three Dragons. After entering the film industry, Chan along with Sammo Hung got the opportunity to train in Hapkido under the grand master Jin Pal Kim, and Chan eventually attained a black belt . Jackie Chan also trained in other styles of Martial Arts such as Karate, Judo, TaeKwonDo, & Jeet Kune Do.
He began his career by appearing in small roles at the age of five. At age eight, he appeared with some of his fellow “Little Fortunes” in the film Big and Little Wong Tin Bar (1962) with Li Li Hua playing his mother. Chan appeared with Li again the following year, in The Love Eterne (1963) and had a small role in King Hu’s 1966 film Come Drink with Me. In 1971, after an appearance as an extra in another kung fu film, A Touch of Zen, Chan was signed to Chu Mu’s Great Earth Film Company. At seventeen, he worked as a stuntman in the Bruce Lee films Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon under the stage name Chan Yuen Lung (Chinese: 陳元龍). He received his first starring role later that year in Little Tiger of Canton that had a limited release in Hong Kong in 1973. In 1975, due to the commercial failures of his early ventures into films and trouble finding stunt work, Chan starred in a comedic adult film All in the Family in which Chan appears in his first nude sex scene. It is the only film he has made to date without a single fight scene or stunt sequence. Jackie Chan later also appeared in one other sex scene, in Shinjuku Incident.
Chan joined his parents in Canberra in 1976, where he briefly attended Dickson College and worked as a construction worker. A fellow builder named Jack took Chan under his wing, thus earning Chan the nickname of “Little Jack” that was later shortened to “Jackie”, and the name Jackie Chan has stuck with him ever since. In the late 1990s, Chan changed his Chinese name to Fong Si-lung (Chinese: 房仕龍), since his father’s original surname was Fong.
In 1976, Jackie Chan received a telegram from Willie Chan, a film producer in the Hong Kong film industry who had been impressed with Jackie’s stunt work. Willie Chan offered him an acting role in a film directed by Lo Wei. Lo had seen Chan’s performance in the John Woo film Hand of Death (1976) and planned to model him after Bruce Lee with the film New Fist of Fury. His stage name was changed to Sing Lung (Chinese: 成龍, also transcribed as Cheng Long, literally “become the dragon”) to emphasise his similarity to Bruce Lee, whose stage name meant “Little Dragon” in Chinese. The film was unsuccessful because Chan was not accustomed to Lee’s martial arts style. Despite the film’s failure, Lo Wei continued producing films with similar themes, but with little improvement at the box office.
Chan’s first major breakthrough was the 1978 film Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, shot while he was loaned to Seasonal Film Corporation under a two-picture deal. Director Yuen Woo-ping allowed Chan complete freedom over his stunt work. The film established the comedic kung fu genre, and proved refreshing to the Hong Kong audience. Chan then starred in Drunken Master, which finally propelled him to mainstream success.
Upon Chan’s return to Lo Wei’s studio, Lo tried to replicate the comedic approach of Drunken Master, producing Half a Loaf of Kung Fu and Spiritual Kung Fu. He also gave Chan the opportunity to co-direct The Fearless Hyena with Kenneth Tsang. When Willie Chan left the company, he advised Jackie to decide for himself whether or not to stay with Lo Wei. During the shooting of Fearless Hyena Part II, Chan broke his contract and joined Golden Harvest, prompting Lo to blackmail Chan with triads, blaming Willie for his star’s departure. The dispute was resolved with the help of fellow actor and director Jimmy Wang Yu, allowing Chan to stay with Golden Harvest.
Willie Chan became Jackie’s personal manager and firm friend, and has remained so for over 30 years. He was instrumental in launching Chan’s international career, beginning with his first forays into the American film industry in the 1980s. His first Hollywood film was The Big Brawl in 1980. Chan then played a minor role in the 1981 film The Cannonball Run, which grossed $100 million worldwide. Despite being largely ignored by audiences in favour of established American actors such as Burt Reynolds, Chan was impressed by the outtakes shown at the closing credits, inspiring him to include the same device in his future films.
After the commercial failure of The Protector in 1985, Chan temporarily abandoned his attempts to break into the US market, returning his focus to Hong Kong films.
Back in Hong Kong, Chan’s films began to reach a larger audience in East Asia, with early successes in the lucrative Japanese market including The Young Master (1980) and Dragon Lord (1982). The Young Master went on to beat previous box office records set by Bruce Lee and established Chan as Hong Kong cinema’s top star. With Dragon Lord, he began experimenting with elaborate stunt action sequences, including the final fight scene where he performs various stunts, including one where he does a back flip off a loft and falls to the lower ground.
Chan produced a number of action comedy films with his opera school friends Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao. The three co-starred together for the first time in 1983 in Project A, which introduced a dangerous stunt-driven style of martial arts that won it the Best Action Design Award at the third annual Hong Kong Film Awards. Over the following two years, the “Three Brothers” appeared in Wheels on Meals and the original Lucky Stars trilogy. In 1985, Chan made the first Police Story film, a US-influenced action comedy in which Chan performed a number of dangerous stunts. It was named the “Best Film” at the 1986 Hong Kong Film Awards. In 1987, Chan played “Asian Hawk,” an Indiana Jones-esque character, in the film Armour of God. The film was Chan’s biggest domestic box office success up to that point, grossing over HK$35 million.
Chan had vocal lessons whilst at the Peking Opera School in his childhood. He began producing records professionally in the 1980s and has gone on to become a successful singer in Hong Kong and Asia. He has released 20 albums since 1984 and has performed vocals in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Taiwanese and English. He often sings the theme songs of his films, which play over the closing credits. Chan’s first musical recording was “Kung Fu Fighting Man”, the theme song played over the closing credits of The Young Master (1980). At least 10 of these recordings have been released on soundtrack albums for the films. His Cantonese song Story of a Hero (英雄故事) (theme song of Police Story) was selected by the Royal Hong Kong Police and incorporated into their recruitment advertisement in 1994.
Chan voiced the character of Shang in the Chinese release of the Walt Disney animated feature, Mulan (1998). He also performed the song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”, for the film’s soundtrack. For the US release, the speaking voice was performed by B.D. Wong and the singing voice was done by Donny Osmond.
In 2007, Chan recorded and released “We Are Ready”, the official one-year countdown song to the 2008 Summer Olympics which he performed at a ceremony marking the one-year countdown to the 2008 Summer Paralympics. Chan also released one of the two official Olympics albums, Official Album for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games – Jackie Chan’s Version, which featured a number of special guest appearances. Chan performed “Hard to Say Goodbye” along with Andy Lau, Liu Huan and Wakin (Emil) Chau, at the 2008 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.
Chan received his Doctor of Social Science degree in 1996 from the Hong Kong Baptist University. In 2009, he received another honorary doctorate from the University of Cambodia, and has also been awarded an honorary professorship by the Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong in 2008.
Prof Chan is currently a faculty member of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he teaches the subject of tourism management. As of 2015, he also serves as the Dean of the Jackie Chan Film and Television Academy under the Wuhan Institute of Design and Sciences
In 1982, Chan married Lin Feng-jiao (a.k.a. Joan Lin), a Taiwanese actress. Their son, singer and actor Jaycee Chan, was born that same year. As a result of an extra-marital affair with Chan, Elaine Ng Yi-Lei bore a daughter in 1999. He speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and American Sign Language and also speaks some German, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and Thai. Chan is an avid football fan and supports the Hong Kong national football team, England National Football Team, and Manchester City.